This summer, on my numerous professional travels, the top question I kept getting was how I trained staff (students, graduate assistants, and professionals) to help manage the multiple social media communication channels we are responsible for. While the conversations around this topic were rich, folks still were wanting some sort of blueprint to get started from. Today, I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas on this topic, and hope the comments section below can be where we crowdsource some of your best ideas as well!
The purpose of this training is two-fold. First, you are helping your staff shift their view of social media communication tools from a “social personal” construct to a “social professional” & “social educational” construct. For the most part, your staff have used social media personally (connect with family, friends, etc.) and because they will be communicating on your organization’s behalf, its important to help them make this paradigm shift. Think of it this way, when you have new staff answer your telephones, work your information booths, or give campus tours, how do you prepare them? Use this as the starting point for a similar training mentality for giving someone the keys to your “social media vehicle.”
Second, you will be establishing what you’re organization’s online “voice” will sound like, based on the approved and supported social media plan I assume you and your team have already put together and agreed upon. Let me be clear about what I mean by “voice.” I am not referencing content, rather your office’s general disposition and attitude online. Will you be generally “professional” or will you try to be funny or mirror more of what your students are like? Whatever your general “voice” will be, you must get on the same page so your organization sounds consistent.
Invite your staff to bring their laptop or tablet to training. If everyone does not have access to one, hold training in a computer lab, to ensure full interaction and engagement.
Here is a sample agenda for your training, modify as you see fit!
I. Digital Identity: This section could be up to a three hour session, depending on what was most important to be covered with the staff you were working with.
1. To reflect on how you use social media communication in your daily lives and raise your awareness about your digital identity
2. Inspire them to use social media beyond “social personal” to “social professional” & “social educational”
3. Encourage them to start building their own positive, online presence
- Open the training by sharing with them how you (and other co-facilitators) are using social media beyond a “social personal” construct.
- Share with them a few Social Media Training Videos, especially ones that showcase tweets being read out loud. I especially like Jimmy Kimmel’s take on this
- For some opening activities, you could:
a. Ask your staff who, of them, is on Twitter? From these folks, ask for one volunteer. From this volunteer, ask them to read their last 5 tweets out loud. Ask the group what their first impression is and the implications. You can also do this with Facebook, Instagram, etc.
b. Ask your your group members to exchange mobile devices, but first they must be unlocked. Have them hold on to their neighbor’s device for at least 10 minutes, then switch back and ask them how it felt to not have their device and to hold onto someone else’s.
c. Do a social media assessment. Ask them what online networks they share information on and why? Most importantly, ask if folks use their real name, a pseudonym, or are anonymous and why? As a side note, I don’t mind if students don’t use their real names on social networks, since part of their identity development is happening online. When they are ready to network and learn using social networks, they can identify by their real names so that this content can be positively connected to this individual.
- Ask each staff member to perform a Google search of their names, in quotation marks, in both google.com and images.google.com. Stress the importance that online searching is the 21st century business card, whether they like it or not. The best way to get started in building an online identity is to create a Google Plus profile and fill in all the information they want connected to their name. From there, create content that they want associated with their name. Use the power of Google Alerts for email notifications when someone mentions you on the interwebs.
- Building their online identity can be an interesting conversation, rich with activities including: writing a 250 word bio that best describes who they are, what they bring to an organization, and what types of problems they can solve; taking a high-quality picture of themselves for online networking purposes; and if they wanted to use about.me as an online business card or buy their own domain name (affiliate link).
- If you are teaching digital identity to your professional staff, please share my post on what their “Student Affairs Selfie” may look like and have a discussion with them on their reactions to it.
II. Social Media Lexicon: This section digs into how each social network defines its communication platform, along with its own nuances
1. To see how each person connects with each social media platform and its corresponding lexicon.
2. To showcase how to navigate and manage the privacy settings of each platform.
3. To learn how to post content on each active office/organization social network.
- Begin by listing the many different words and definitions used by social media channels such as “friend”, “privacy”, “follower”, etc. Ask your staff to talk about how these terms connect them to each online network. Ask them to consider that not everyone on Facebook is their “friend” and that there is no such thing as “privacy” when you communicate electronically. In reality, you are are “connected” to those online and you have a choice as to how and what you share online. The reason online networks use these terms is to elicit a personal connection, and as such, increased use. Saying that you have 1,000 Facebook “Connections” just doesn’t sound as cool
- Share screen shots and stories of each of the online networks that you use to connect with. Share why you use each one (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus, etc.) and find out how each of them will use them moving forward in these different paradigms (e.g. managing personal and professional accounts, one integrated account, erasing current online profile and starting all over, etc.)
- Ask them if they know what TWO Facebook pictures are publicly searchable (cover and profile photos) and if they are comfortable with how those photos represent themselves. Navigate the privacy settings for each social network your office is using and show them how modifying these settings changes the way information is shared and viewed.
- Teach them how to use each social media platform you use, starting with how to create an account, how to fill out all the information properly, and how to share posts. For example, if you need to teach them how to use Twitter, start here :)
III. Scenario Solving: Once your staff has become accustomed to each of the social networks you plan to communicate over, use these scenarios and tasks to test their knowledge base and comfort level!
On your organization’s current Facebook Fan Page:
Beginner: ’Like’ and answer one of the last five posts
Intermediate: Share a Post from your Facebook Feed with a Colleague or Friend not at this workshop asking them to answer any question.
Advanced: Post a piece of content (link, photo, video, etc.) that you think other Higher Education Facebook connections would enjoy
- On your Facebook timeline, check-in to your organization or office and post it to Facebook with a supporting photo and tagging fellow Higher Education or Student Affairs connections!
- On your current organization fan page, send out some positive vibes by saying something nice about fellow colleagues by tagging them a post!
Beginner: Send a Tweet to your organization’s Twitter account, sharing something you have learned so far at today’s training, along with your workshop’s hashtag (e.g. #satechBOS)
Intermediate: Favorite a Tweet from your hashtag’s feed and send it as a “quoted retweet” with your thoughts.
Advanced: Create an organization Twitter List and add people you’ve met in person so far. Tweet out the link to your new list.
- Check in on “Foursquare Check-in” at the your organization and add your organization’s hashtag
- Post a Vine video about your organization’s hashtag
Beginner: Send a picture from your organization’s Instagram account, sharing something you’ve learned so far at today’s training, along with your workshop’s hashtag (e.g. #satechBOS)
Intermediate:Favorite an Instagram photo from your hashtag’s feed and add a comment to it.
Advanced: Create a photo-grid using a third-party app, post it on your organization’s Instagram account, add a filter, and focus along with your workshop’s hashtag (e.g. #satechBOS)
- Cross post your Instagram photo’s to Facebook and Twitter.
- Create a video on Instagram and share it along with your workshop’s hashtag (e.g. #satechBOS)
Find a related blog post to your organization/department and then…
Beginner: Leave a comment on the current blog post listed.
Intermediate: Share this post via Facebook or Twitter with your comments. If you Tweet it, add the organization’s hashtag
Advanced: Write your own short blog reflection on one meaningful thing you have learned at this training. Share it on your organization’s hashtag
- Write a full reflection on your own blog or website and share it on Twitter with your organization’s hashtag or on the organization’s Facebook Page.
- Share a full Reflection that you have read and enjoyed on Twitter with the your organization’s hashtag or on the organization’s Facebook Page.
Once you’ve gone through all three sections of this training, you can move on to logistics planning and implementation (e.g. how often to post, what analytics data is most important, who will respond to comments, etc.) Most people start here, but in reality, this is the last phase of training as you move into implementation.
Keep in mind that communicating on social media for your department, organization, and/or university is a huge responsibility. Connect with the folks in your Marketing and Communications or Institutional Communications, as well as other offices across your division, to see what has worked best and how they are using it.
Remember, social media is about the conversation, not about one-way communication. Save that for your website
How do you train your staff to communicate over social media? What activities, videos, etc. do you use to engage during training?